Staunton, August 29 – In a move that raises the ante of Vladimir Putin’s announcement of military exercises to check the readiness of the Russian armed forces, the Defense Ministry has announced that “federal organs of the executive power and enterprises of the defense sector” are to be involved and checked for their readiness to function in “military times.”
Among the civilian agencies to be part of the military exercise, the defense ministry’s press office says are parts of the communications, finance, and trade ministries, the Russian State Reserve and the Bank of Russia which will be checked for their ability to operate “under conditions of military time” (function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12094234).
On the one hand, the involvement of these agencies in military games makes the latter more realistic and may thus be only a recognition that in modern war, the military is far from the only player. But on the other hand, this arrangement and the publicity given to it sends a signal to both the Russian people and Russia’s neighbors that Moscow is seriously preparing for war.
Given that the Russian military in recent years has often carried out exercises in the summer months, many Russians may have dismissed reports about the current one despite its size; and the Kremlin, especially in the run up to the Duma elections on September 18, is likely interested in seeking to generate patriotic fervor and support for the regime.
And given that Moscow has been issuing threats to Ukraine and other of its neighbors in various ways, this makes the latest Russian military exercise even more threatening because it is not only more realistic but because Moscow would have less to do to transform this exercise into a military strike.
Especially ominous is what this announcement says about mobilizing reserves and providing automobiles for military units in the Southern and Central Military Districts and in the Northern Fleet. “For the first time,” the announcement says, the Bank of Russia will be involved to ensure that money flows into these sectors in a timely fashion.
The ministry also says that this exercise will now “check the readiness of a number of enterprises of the defense industry complex of the south of Russia” and their ability to “fulfill tasks laid on them as far as the supply and reconditioning of arms” and other equipment these groups need.
According to the ministry’s press office, this is all being done in correspondence with Putin’s July 17 order to conduct “an experiment on the introduction of a new system of preparation and forming up of human resources for mobilization.” To the extent it is successful, the new system will become standard operating procedure.